Sports Direct abandons interest in Blacks Leisure bid

Sports Direct has withdrawn its interest in buying struggling outdoor goods retailer Blacks Leisure.

Blacks put itself up for sale in December, and had announced that Sports Direct was interested in buying it.

The sports goods retailer already owns 22.5% of Blacks, whose shares have fallen 95% since January.

However, Sports Direct, whose majority shareholder is Mike Ashley, owner of Newcastle football club, has now said it will not make a bid.

Last month, Blacks warned that tough High Street conditions meant it now expected weaker-than-expected Christmas trading.

In October the company reported a £16m loss for the six months to the 27 August.

Blacks, which owns 98 Blacks outlets, 208 Millets stores and the Peter Storm and Eurohike brands, is targeting a sale by January next year.

The company has said that it has the support of Bank of Scotland, its main lender. However, Blacks warned that, given debt levels, any sale may provide no benefit to shareholders.

Blacks currently has £36m of net bank debt.

The firm has appointed accountants KPMG to find potential buyers.

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